Get walking, talking
From 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 13, join Clallam County Master Gardeners for a walk at the 5th Street Community Garden in Port Angeles. These educational events focus on gardening techniques, vegetables that do well in our climate and chores that need to be done in the vegetable garden. Walks occur rain or shine. For more information, call 360-565-2679.
July usually brings the start of our summer drought with no significant rain expected until September or October. Plan to spend a lot of time watering your garden this month.
Water early in the morning or late in the afternoon to minimize water loss caused by evaporation, but water plants immediately if they are wilted. Water deeply so that water reaches the root zone; soaker hoses and drip irrigation apply water slowly, minimizing runoff while keeping leaves dry. Apply 2-3 inches of mulch to garden beds to hold in moisture and discourage weeds.
Patrol for diseases, insects and other pests and consult local Master Gardeners for ways to control them. Diagnostic Plant Clinics are held on Mondays from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles, and on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Master Gardener Woodcock Demonstration Garden in Sequim.
Pull out finished crops and replenish the soil with a couple of inches of compost. Now is the time to plant your fall garden. Sow slow-growers such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions and peas by mid-month and faster growing vegetables such as Asian mustards, beets, chard, kale, lettuce, radishes and spinach by the end of the month.
Remove suckers from tomatoes as well as stems and leaves on the main stem below the first flower/fruit cluster. Suckers are the small shoots that sprout from the joint where a branch meets the main stem. Stop fertilizing tomatoes by the end of the month to encourage ripening. Watch for signs of fungal diseases such as late blight which causes brown blotches on leaves and stems that rapidly enlarge and quickly lead to plant death. Remove and destroy infected plants; do not compost.
Stop watering garlic as it naturally starts to dry and harvest it when 4 or 5 leaves are still green. The leaves continue down around the garlic bulb and form the papery wrappers which protect and hold the cloves together. If you let all of the leaves turn brown, the papery wrappers will disintegrate and the garlic will not store well. Carefully lift the bulbs from the soil with a spade or garden fork. Gently brush off the dirt and let them cure in a dry and shady spot for two weeks before storing.
If you didn’t thin fruit in June, do it this month. A lighter load will prevent breakage of limbs and increase the likelihood of a good harvest next year. Thin plums to 2 to 4 inches apart on a branch; thin apples and pears to 1 to 2 fruits per cluster spaced 6 to 8 inches apart on the branch. Otherwise, support fruit tree branches that are heavily loaded.
Remove water-sprouts and suckers from fruit trees. Prune cherry trees after the harvest if you avoided pruning them in the dormant season.
Remove cankered limbs from fruit trees for control of diseases such as apple anthracnose and bacterial canker of stone fruit. Make cuts into healthy wood, well below the canker. Sterilize tools before each new cut.
Renovate June-bearing strawberries (not day neutral or everbearing varieties). Mow off leaves a few inches above the crown; clean up the patch and remove weak, old and crowded plants. Narrow rows to 8-12 inches wide and fertilize with 5-10-10.
Top erect and semi-erect blackberries (not trailing blackberries) when first-year canes reach 4 feet high. Topping encourages lateral branching and more berries next year.
Continue an organic fertilizing regimen for blueberries (1 tbsp. fish emulsion in 1 cup water per bush) at the beginning of the month (no ammonium sulfate in July). Discontinue fertilizing blueberries after July to help bushes to prepare for the dormant season.
Provide all berries 1-2 inches of water a week. Cover plants with net to protect fruit against critters.
This calendar is for guidance only. Growing conditions vary from garden to garden and from spot to spot within the same garden. Please adjust your gardening activities to fit with local conditions.
Jeanette Stehr-Green is a WSU-certified Clallam County Master Gardener.